Closeup of a slice of mugwart cake with crumble in front of a row of kyusu

Tea & Food Pairing, Part 3: Mugwort Pound Cake with Kinako Crumble

The third and final part of this blog post series uses one of my favourite herbs, mugwort. Growing up in Korea, my grandmother used to make me mugwort rice cake. It’s a very nostalgic flavour for me, and a very traditional one here in Japan. Mugwort, or yomogi in Japanese, is often used in wagashi. And seeing as it’s a classic Japanese flavour, I find that it pairs very nicely with Japanese tea. So for our international tea drinkers, I wanted to create a baked dessert using mugwort as the main ingredient.

2 slices of green mugwort cake without crumble on a white and blue plate, with a glass of green tea in the background
Batch #1: Without the crumble. It was a bit dry, but much more moist the day after.

For this pound cake, I use mugwort powder, which can be found in Asian supermarkets. The cake is good on its own, but I use another traditional ingredient to make a crumble on top. Kinako is roasted soybean powder. My grandmother used to coat the mugwort rice cake with roasted soybean powder. It’s still one of my favourite snacks to this day, and it’s the inspiration for this pound cake recipe. You can easily find the powder in Asian supermarkets as well.

Closeup of a slice of mugwart cake with crumble in front of a row of kyusu
Trying the cake at the tasting session.

Pairing Suggestions

The top 3 pairing suggestions from our tasting session are Houjicha Gold, Kyobancha, and Tencha. I think our other houjichas will pair nicely with it as well, but we had Houjicha Gold at the tasting session (because it’s my personal favourite).

The tasting table prepared with 10 kyusu, 10 pitchers full of brewed tea, and empty teacups and plates
Getting ready for our tasting session.

Mugwort Pound Cake with Kinako Crumble

The trick to a moist pound cake is to wrap the cake in plastic wrap once it’s out of the oven. It keeps the moisture in as it cools, resulting in a deliciously moist cake. If you prefer a crumblier texture, let the cake cool completely on a drying rack.

Two loaves of mugwort cake with the crumble on a white plate, with two small slices cut

Kinako Crumble Ingredients

40g unsalted butter (room temperature)

40g sugar

25g kinako powder (roasted soybean powder)

35g flour

Cake Ingredients

100g unsalted butter, room temperature

90g granulated sugar

100g egg (~2 large eggs), room temperature

100g flour

15g mugwort powder

1g salt

3g baking powder

30mL heavy cream, room temperature


  1. Prepare the kinako crumble: mix butter and sugar together, then add the dry ingredients and mix. Use your hands to make crumbles of the mixture, then store in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Grease a 6-inch loaf pan
  3. Preheat oven to 170℃/340℉.
  4. Beat sugar and butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  5. Beat eggs lightly in a separate bowl and add mixture in two batches.
  6. Sift the dry ingredients together, add them to the bowl, and fold it in.
  7. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  8. Pour batter into the pound cake pan, and sprinkle the crumble on top.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes.
  10. Take out of the pan, wrap the cake in plastic wrap (or foil) and let it cool.
  11. Enjoy with some Obubu tea!

…that concludes the pairing project by intern #150, Yena! And although my internship has come to an end, I will continue to explore more pairings back at home. Please follow me on instagram for more pairing ideas @aa_yn_. I’d love to connect with you!

Posted in Interns, Tea Recipes.

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